Thursday, September 15, 2011

Back from the Land of the Morning Calm

On July 20th I got back from South Korea where I served an 18 month mission for my church (you can find stuff about my church here: It was the most amazing experience of my entire life and I really feel like I got a new start on everything. I loved the people, the culture, the food - everything! It's a little weird being back in the USA though. A bit of a backwards culture shock, especially considering I spoke only Korean 90% of the time. (I only spoke English when I was with other Americans or I was teaching English class). Spending all my time teaching, sharing my experiences, and serving others - I learned a lot about myself when I was focusing on others. It cleared away the frustrations that had been keeping me from progressing in life and becoming happier. I wouldn't trade that experience for the world.

Seeing the results of people's lives changing for the better, seeing them finally feel good about themselves and have direction in their lives - makes me know even more surely that it's through the full and complete gospel of Christ that all happiness can be attained, all hardships and frustrations can be overcome, and all progress begins. I will be honest in saying that stating things like that aloud in a world full of people who can judge so easily and harshly took a lot of courage. And learning an entirely different language to say it to the Korean people in their own language - it took a lot of humility, patience, and faith. But I had some of the most amazing experiences because of it, and I got to know the Korean people in deeper way as I talked to them about their lives, frustrations, successes. My companion and I met in their homes and we ate together, we talked to them on subways, in the streets, anywhere and everywhere. It was never about pushing my beliefs on them, it was all about them, their lives, their troubles, and how this gospel could be applied in a way that would help them.
I had sooooo much fun and I love Korea!

*You can check out the weekly letters and pictures I sent home here on my blog :

So now I'm back to normal life, though it seems a lot better than it did before ^^. I'm planning to work more on my portraiture drawing/painting and I've had some ideas about what I'd like to do with character design and all the other aspects of art that I love. So I've been looking into some online workshops and classes like the ones on [link] and I'll be tracking down all the open drawing sessions I can find.

As a awesome, amazing side effect of going on a mission I can finally feel ok with where I am in art and be happy with myself and my work. I had the worst habit of always comparing myself to other better artists and feeling so behind. I felt like I was endlessly trying to catch up with them and replicate what they were doing. But without the background and understanding of technique that they had gained through hard work and practice, I inevitably failed. I would create a piece, like it for a very short period of time before realizing that I'd failed and then I'd just start to hate it. An endless cycle of disappointment and discouragement. Never satisfied with where I was with my art and always reaching for something beyond my grasp. I couldn't look at my old art with any happiness - I had just failed and looking at it again was kindof repulsive. I couldn't appreciate my progress because I was never satisfied.

So the thing that made me the happiest to create, made me the most discouraged as well.
I hated that.

But now I feel like, you know what, this is where I am. These are the techniques I know and I will do my best. I can look at better artists for inspiration but I'm not them. I have my own journey of progression. I can learn from their techniques and try them out, if they work for me that's awesome! I can practice them and improve. But my art and their art will never be exactly the same and that's the way it should be. I'm me. They are them. I'm here with my art and they are there with theirs. That's ok. If I put in my all, if I do my best, I will improve. I will progress. And if I'm accepting of myself and where I am but try to improve - I think I'll be able to look back at my old art with happy recollections because I did MY best.

While I was in Korea, my companion (the person I served with) told me this story. I don't remember it exactly but it helped me a lot. There was this actor on TV once who was talking about his acting career. He was super famous and was an awesome actor. When he started acting he'd had a idea to become a certain genre of actor but in the process of his career he'd become famous in a different genre. Because he had a gift for that other genre. He had a gift but because he still hung onto that other ideal he was never satisfied with his work and wasn't happy.
I heard that and at first I thought - "But he had this dream! He should never give up!" but after pondering it for a bit, I could relate. I would see some artist's work and want to become like them. But I was born with a different set of skills and style of my own. I fought who I was to become something else. I am good at something else and that's ok. I can become really good at my style or fight myself and become a watered down version of someone else. I can try to replicate something that isn't me or I can be inspired and apply what works to my style to improve it.

I hope that made sense ^^; But the point is that in the end I'm happy and I feel the discouragement and dissatisfaction disappearing.
They have been replaced by satisfaction with where I am now and motivation and inspiration to improve.

I'm starting fresh. I hope you all enjoy what I post from now on, but at least I feel better knowing I will from now on. XD

-Jessie Kate